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Nevada County awaits booster recommendations, continues to see decrease in cases

Nevada County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet said in a Q&A Wednesday that it will be at least a few days until specific recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccine boosters become available.

The Food and Drug Administration gave its approval Wednesday on extending boosters to those who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as anyone eligible for an extra dose receiving one from a different manufacturer than their original immunization.

According to Trochet, the process remains in the “initial stages” despite this approval, given that the matter will now go before an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will review the data to form more specific recommendations such as which groups would benefit most from the vaccine boosters.



In addition to the CDC, said Trochet, the county will wait for recommendations from California’s Department of Public Health, which will be advised by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

“So, good that the FDA has done this, but we’re still not ready to make firm recommendations until we hear from the others,” she said.




IMPROVING RATES

Last week, Nevada County recorded 141 new COVID-19 cases, continuing a decreasing trend as this month so far sees the lowest weekly case counts since July.

Dr. Scott Kellermann, the county’s public health officer, said in a Q&A Wednesday that the county’s immunization rate continues to rise, and has surpassed 120,000 doses administered.

Commenting on the county’s dropping weekly case counts, he said, “One of the reasons is our immunization rates are improving on a regular basis.”

As of Wednesday, according to the county’s Coronavirus Dashboard, western county has seen a total of over 6,900 cases, while eastern county has seen over 1,800 since the pandemic’s start.

Asked whether there are factors outside of population density that have contributed to the difference between the two sides’ caseload, Kellermann said he is in regular communication with colleagues on the eastern side of the county and that rates of immunization and masking, as well as “compliance to personal protection,” are all higher there than in western county — translating to lower rates.

“It’s pretty obvious — if you get immunized and wear a mask and follow public health measures, then this virus is not going to spread as easily,” said Kellermann. “And, my view is eastern county has done a good job, and maybe we can learn a little bit from our neighbors across the Sierra.”

Jill Blake, the county’s director of public health, said Wednesday that the county’s COVID-19 testing site in Grass Valley has returned to a six-day schedule in order to better align with demand.

It had moved to opening seven days per week last month, after officials said it was being used at over 100% of its intended capacity at the time.

The testing site, at 231 Colfax Ave., is now operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

DATA TRANSFER ISSUE

As of Wednesday, the county’s online Coronavirus Dashboard displayed a note dated Oct. 14, saying that the number of “active” cases shown was not accurate. Cases continue to be investigated and released from isolation after the recommended time frame, the message stated.

The county has also continued as normal in providing daily new cases.

Blake explained Wednesday that the county’s Public Health department works with two state systems when opening and closing cases.

“And, right now, there is a data communication issue between those two systems that is not reconciling when those cases are closed, so we can’t at this point post an accurate number of open, active cases,” said Blake.

“But, as soon as the state’s data issue is addressed, then we will put that number back up,” she said, adding that she expects it will take through this week for the state to address it.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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